Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani, the leader of the Budiriro Apostolic sect whose members recently attacked police officers, journalists and Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe officials, is believed to have used the power of manipulation to violate his congregants’ rights.
A church member, who strictly requested anonymity, opened up to The Sunday Mail, giving insights into Madzibaba Ishmael’s bizarre beliefs.
According to the members, Madzibaba Ishmael told his followers that a war would break out and that they would be the only survivors.
He also made them believe that after this war, the world would be turned into “Canaan”, flowing with milk and honey.
For church members to enter “Canaan”, they were required to adhere to a queer lifestyle that included not sleeping on beds; watching television and not even owning radios. Members are also not allowed to seek medical assistance.
One of Madzibaba Ishmael’s most bizarre beliefs is that men who marry deflowered girls will not enter “Canaan”.
For them to qualify into his imagined paradise, the men were required to ask the wives they would have married as non-virgins to find virgins for them.
Women who married as deflowered girls were referred to as maravhuza (waste).
Members were also not allowed to own cellular phones and their leader promised that they would use their palms as mobile phones in “Canaan”.
According to Madzibaba Ishmael’s teachings, such “phones” would be more advanced and free of charge.
“Members believe that Ishmael has the power over life and death. They fear him a lot,” said the church member, who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation.
The source said members of the church were particularly afraid following the death of Madzibaba Ishmael’s rival, Madzibaba Steblon.
Madzibaba Steblon is said to have died mysteriously.
Besides being denied the right to education, girls were required to marry before they reached the age of 18 and those that failed to do so were forced to marry men they did not love.
Mandatory virginity tests, which were conducted by the fathers of the girls, were done on a regular basis.
Formal employment is frowned upon and one member of the church, who was at one time a teacher, is said to have burnt his educational and professional qualifications to earn a living as a wood merchant.
Madzibaba Ishmael is believed by his members to have foretold the recent disturbances at the shrine.
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